Zsolt Kudich_Grand Prize 2015

BigPicture 2015 Grand Prize Winner: "Flying Egrets" by Zsolt Kudich (Budapest, Hungary).

SAN FRANCISCO (January 22, 2016) — The California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco is now accepting submissions for its third annual BigPicture: Natural World Photography Competition following the success of its 2015 run. Spotlighting the work of high-level nature and conservation photographers, the competition focuses a visual lens on the wonders of the natural world and critical conservation issues facing our planet. Judged by an esteemed panel of world-renowned photographers and photo editors, including Jury Chair and award-winning wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas, winners will receive a cash prize and have their photographs featured in an exhibit on the Academy’s public floor, which welcomes over one million visitors each year. Click here to view winning images from BigPicture 2015.

“In just two years, BigPicture has become one of the most prestigious nature photography contests in the world. Every year, the judging panel has the privilege of seeing thousands of exquisite images from all corners of the globe, so many of which just blow your mind,” says Suzi Eszterhas, BigPicture Jury Chair. “Winning images from competitions like BigPicture have the power to communicate both nature’s beauty and fragility to the millions of people who view them every year, providing inspiring, thought provoking perspectives of life on our planet.”

This year, the competition again seeks professional-level, high-caliber nature, wildlife, and conservation images and is open to all photographers with the ability to tell vivid, eye-catching stories of the natural world through the photographic medium. In addition to several individual categories, listed below, the competition will now include a photo essay category focusing on coral reef ecosystems and conservation, one of the Academy’s core areas of sustainability research. Photographers are encouraged to submit essays of 3-5 images that illustrate the abundant biodiversity found within coral reefs and the critical need to protect these threatened global ecosystems.

In its first two years, the BigPicture competition received a four-star rating (the highest possible honor) from The Photographer’s Guide to Photo Contests by Photo Shelter, one of the world’s top photography resource websites. The competition was also named one of the “Best Photography Contests and Prizes in 2016” by Format, a leading online portfolio service for photographers.

Last year, the international competition received over 6,000 image entries from photographers representing over 69 different countries. From Grand Prize winner Zsolt Kudich’s captivating shot capturing a flock of egrets finding sanctuary at dawn, to an up-close encounter with a snow monkey traveling through its wintry mountain habitat, each winning image magnificently captured its own unique interpretation of the natural world through a photographic lens. Kudich’s winning image in particular, which also showcases the dramatic recovery of this species since the late 19th century due to successful conservation efforts, received attention from international media, museum visitors, and conservationists alike, reaching audiences far and wide with an important story of environmental sustainability.

“It is a great honor to be named Grand Prize winner for a competition as prestigious as BigPicture,” says conservation photographer Zsolt Kudich of Hungary. “I encourage everyone to try to notice and capture inspiring stories wherever they live.”

Award-winning wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas will chair the competition’s panel of esteemed judges for a third year, comprised of international photo editors Sophie Stafford (formerly of BBC Wildlife) and Kathy Moran (National Geographic), award-winning nature and conservation photographers Neil Ever Osborne, Ian Shive, Brian Skerry, and Paul Hilton.

The Grand Prize and First Place Category winners and their work will be honored at an awards ceremony during an Academy NightLife event (21+) on July 28, 2016. Awards include $12,000 in cash prizes with winning images to be featured in a BigPicture photography exhibit at the Academy from July 29-October 30, 2016.

Paid image submissions are currently being accepted online at http://bigpicturecompetition.org through March 31, 2016. Entry fees are $15 for the photo essay category and $25 for up to ten individual image submissions. Discounted rates are available now through February 14. This year’s competition categories include:

Terrestrial Wildlife

Animals photographed anywhere in the world. Images may include land-based mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and non-flying insects whether they live in trees or on land.

Winged Life

Birds or flying insects photographed anywhere in the world—in flight, perched, or in action.

Landscapes, Waterscapes & Flora

Captivating images of wild places with a unique perspective, from expansive landscape vistas of forests, deserts, and mountains to the microhabitats of plants and other flora. Images may include water environments of oceans, lakes, and rivers with images taken above or under water including waves, tide pools, and other water scenes.

Aquatic Life

Marine animals including mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates that spend the majority of their time in water.

Art of Nature

Abstract expressions of nature and/or science. Life photographed out in nature or under the microscope. Images may include unusual close-ups, angles, patterns, motion, or perspectives, and images created using scientific imaging tools. Artistic effects should not be the result of digital manipulations.


Images that depict the efforts of scientists, conservationists, and others working to sustain life on our planet. Images should illustrate the impacts of humans on the environment and can be either positive or negative stories.

New! 2016 Photo Essay: Coral Reefs

A 3-5 image submission with captions. This year’s photo essay theme focuses on one of the greatest ecological challenges of our time: protecting the world’s coral reefs. Photo stories should highlight the exquisite life that coral reefs support, or illustrate our complex relationship with these intricate ecosystems—from restoration to exploitation.

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